The first thing kids come across at the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in North Greenbush is a waterfall representing Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks, with an inviting, kid-sized canoe on the floor at the bottom.
“The canoe is an important part of the museum,” said Laurie Miedema, director of operations at CMOST, on a tour Thursday morning. “It’s the first thing that the kids are allowed to get into and touch. It kind of sets the tone: Jump on in and go.”
It was a hot, muggy morning, already shaping up to be a great day for the museum. While outdoor summer destinations cringe at extreme heat or rainy, dreary days, CMOST welcomes them. That’s when parents bring their kids for some hands-on fun.
WHERE: 250 Jordan Road, Troy
WHEN: Summer hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
HOW MUCH: $5
MORE INFO: 235-2120, www.cmost.org
“The only thing we tell the kids is don’t put their fingers in the water with the fish,” Miedema said.
The first section of the ring-shaped museum takes kids “the entire length of the Hudson River in about 75 feet” with three tanks full of trout, catfish and turtles representing various ecosystems of the river as it winds from the mountains to the ocean.
Just around the bend, kids can have a chat with Otis the Screech Owl, a fluffy little ball of a bird who likes to sit at the back of his pen and “talk” to visitors. In the Operation Wild section, kids — like the ones running from exhibit to exhibit Thursday morning — can check out the rest of the museum’s critters, from snakes, lizards and turtles to hissing cockroaches, rabbits and a hedgehog.
But first, they’ll learn about renewable energy sources by cranking up some wind turbines to light up a model skyline, or take a peek inside the workings of solar panels.
In one of the side rooms, called the Sensory Room, preschoolers can get messy with a different material every day — slime, water, grass, ice. “They come in and they just touch and play and get messy,” Miedema said. “And it’s great because the mess stays here and doesn’t go home. Super popular.”
As kids are busy creating weather reports on a full-size green screen or crawling into a small simulated cave to learn about the frogs of the Hudson River, parents — or reporters — may find themselves transfixed by the movement of a nanofluid in a magnetic field in the museum’s nanoscience section, or building elaborate pipe courses to roll balls through on the Magnetic Ball Wall.
The museum was busy Thursday with several summer camps, both its own and visiting camps. In Construction Junction, a room in the center of the museum, a group of kids worked on building simple electrical circuits. Light bulbs blinked on and off as children passed parts back and forth, and camp leaders walked around giving instructions.
“We’re not going to teach kids rocket science here,” Miedema said, “but we might spark something.”
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